Evidence-Based Supplements for Health & Performance - Part 1 - Coach Mark Carroll

Evidence Based Supplements for Health & Performance – Part 1

Oct 27, 2022
Sheridan Skye

There are many supplements available on the market today that claim to offer a variety of benefits. While some of these claims may be true, many are false or exaggerated. As a result, it is important to be informed about the potential risks and benefits of taking supplements before making a purchase. 

Some common supplements that are often marketed with false claims include weight loss aids, brain-boosting supplements, and energy enhancers. Weight loss supplements often promise results that are not possible to achieve without making other lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. Brain-boosting supplements may claim to improve memory or cognitive function, but there is no scientific evidence to support these claims. Energy enhancers may contain stimulants that can have side effects, such as increased heart rate and blood pressure. 

Our head of nutrition, Sheridan Skye breaks down the supplements that we recommend which are backed by research. Read on to learn more. 

Fish oil 

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fat that is essential for human health. The two main types of omega-3 fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are found in fish oil, and they have important roles in the structure and function of cell membranes. They also play a role in inflammation, and they have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. EPA and DHA can be obtained through the diet or through supplements. Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids include oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and herring, as well as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.

Other benefits of fish oil supplementation include: 

  • Lowers blood pressure – Miller et al. (2014) 
  • Decreases triglycerides – Zulyniak et al. (2013) 
  • Prevents against blood clots – Metcalf (2008
  • May improve symptoms of depression –  Sublette et al. (2011) 
  • May help to improve performance and improve fat loss – Noreen et al. (2010) 

How much should you take? 

This depends on your intake of oily fish and other food sources that are rich in EPA and DHA. Some people may not need to supplement with fish oil but those who don’t consume fish 2-3 times per week should consider supplementing with approx 300 -1800mg per day.

Caffeine 

Caffeine is a stimulant drug that is found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, and some sodas. It is also available in pill form. Caffeine works by blocking the neurotransmitter adenosine from binding to its receptors. This increases levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, which leads to the physical effects of caffeine including increased alertness and heart rate. Caffeine also causes increased blood flow to the brain and muscles, which can improve performance. In general, caffeine consumption leads to improved reaction time, vigilance, and short-term memory. Caffeine can also help to delay fatigue and improve endurance during exercise. For these reasons, many people use caffeine as a way to improve their performance.

Potential performance benefits of caffeine: 

  • Spares muscle glycogen – Greer et al. (2001) 
  • Increases alertness and improves decision making – Kamimori et al. (2015) 
  • Improves performance even during periods of sleep deprivation – Kamimori et al. (2015) 
  • Improves muscular endurance – Carr et al. (2001)
  • Improves strength – Placket (2001)
  • Reduces rate of perceived exhaustion – Backhouse et al. (2001)

When and how to take it? 

Aim to consume 2-6mg per kg of body weight 60 minutes prior to training. 

It is important to remember that too much caffeine can lead to negative side effects such as anxiety and jitters. Therefore, it is important to consume caffeine in moderation.

Creatine Monohydrate 

Creatine monohydrate is a supplement that has been shown to improve exercise performance and increase muscle mass. It works by increasing the levels of ATP, the energy molecule that muscles use to power their contraction. This results in increased strength and endurance, allowing you to work out harder and for longer. There is also some evidence that creatine can help to reduce recovery time after exercise. For these reasons, creatine is a popular supplement among athletes and bodybuilders. However, it is important to note that creatine is not a magic bullet, and it will not give you results if you do not put in the hard work. I wrote a detailed blog post on creatine here.

Beta Alanine

Beta alanine is an amino acid that is commonly found in pre-workout supplements. It is used by the body to produce carnosine, which helps to protect muscles from fatigue. Beta alanine has been shown to improve exercise performance, and it is often used by athletes to help them train harder and for longer periods of time. In addition, beta alanine has been shown to improve mental focus and cognition. Overall, beta alanine is a safe and effective way to improve exercise performance and cognitive function.

Benefits of beta alanine

  • Increases muscle carnosine levels
  • Buffers hydrogen ions (decreases the ‘deep’ burn #IYKYK)
  • Improves anaerobic performance

How much should you take? 

Single doses of 10-20mg

Vitamin D 

Vitamin D is a nutrient that is essential for many functions in the body. It helps to regulate calcium and phosphorus levels, which are important for bone health. Vitamin D also plays a role in the immune system and helps to protect against certain diseases. The body produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, but it can also be found in certain foods such as fatty fish and eggs. The caveat to this is that it is quite difficult to obtain the recommended daily intake of vitamin D through diet alone and most people are deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a number of problems, including bone pain and tenderness, muscle weakness, and increased risk of infections. Therefore, it is important to get enough vitamin D through diet and exposure to sunlight.

Benefits of vitamin D 

  • Improved immune function –  Prietl et al. (2013) 
  • Supports and prevents cardiovascular disease – Holick, (2007)
  • May improve symptoms of depression – Shaffer et al. (2014)
  • Improves bone health – Hill et al. (2013)
  • May improve fat loss – Ortega et al. (2008)

How much should you supplement with? 

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin meaning it can be stored by the body. This means that it may reach ‘toxic’ levels if supplemented with inappropriately (however, this rarely happens). Still, you should obtain a blood test from your doctor and tailor your supplements needs from there (approx 2400-4000IU daily). 

So there you have it guys, here are some of the supplements we regularly recommend to clients to increase health and performance. Stay tuned for part two. 

 

Yours in Health,

Sheridan Skye

Head of Nutrition

@sheridanskyefit